|DHEA and allergies
Feb 18, 2012
I take DHEA every day, I'm told that it helps stimulate testosterone production as I age. But, I saw an allergist recently, and he said I shouldn't be taking it, as it can have long-term side effects. Is this true? What about melatonin, which I take most nights to help me sleep?
| Response from Mr. Vergel
The adrenal glands also produce dihydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), the most abundant hormone found in the blood stream. The body uses DHEA as the starting material for producing the sex hormones testosterone and estrogen in men. Studies have shown that it only increases testosterone in women. The production of DHEA diminishes in most people after age 40. In people aged 70 years, DHEA levels will be approximately 30 percent lower than what they were at age 25. Low blood levels of DHEA have been associated with many degenerative conditions.
Some controversial and non-conclusive studies have shown that people with immune deficiencies and fatigue may benefit from supplementation with this hormone. It is still available over-the-counter in the United States. This may change soon due to a new bill passed by Congress that classifies it as a performance-enhancing steroid (no studies have shown that it has such effect).
One study showed that women with the correct levels of DHEA can convert it into testosterone as their body needs while men do not benefit to the same degree. You need a blood test to know if you have low DHEA-S since most of the DHEA converts into this sulfated form. Common doses for women are 5 to 30 mg a day, while men tend to benefit from 25-100 mg per day (to bring low levels of DHEA-S to normal) All the hormones mentioned can be tested with blood tests or by using the easy-do-it-at-home mail order saliva hormone tests that are available without a prescription. Mail-order saliva tests for testosterone, DHEA-S, estradiol, and cortisol are offered by Great Smokies Laboratory at 1-800-522-4762.
NOTE: Do not use DHEA supplements unless your blood levels of DHEA-S are low. If low, start at a low dose and get your DHEA-S tested again after a month. Men who use DHEA supplements may have problems with higher estrogen levels since DHEA can also metabolize into estradiol. This could result in gynecomastia and water retention. If you start taking DHEA, have your blood levels checked to make sure they are not above normal. There are many claims about DHEA being an anti-aging and an anti-cancer cure, but none of these claims has been substantiated with strong data.
Melatonin has been shown to be pretty safe and effective to aid sleep. But some people feel too drowsy in the morning when they take it.
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